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Israel, November 2018

Pauline

Forums Admin
#1
We went to Israel for the first time in March. We both loved it so much that we decided to go again this year. The first trip was two weeks, with one week in Jerusalem, two nights at the Dead Sea, four nights in Haifa, and a last night in Tel Aviv. For the November trip we return to Jerusalem, explore southern Israel, then spend a week in Tel Aviv, spending nearly four weeks in total.

I have been planning this trip in the Other Countries forum - Help me plan my trip to Israel.

THE PLAN

Jerusalem, 10 nights vacation rental, in a modern building a few blocks from where we stayed before in the German Colony.
http://www.colonysuites.com/Colony.php
Pick up rental car 2 days before end of stay in Jerusalem because we want to drive to a few places outside of Jerusalem. I booked directly with Hertz.co.il to make sure we have the correct insurances.

Ein Gedi, 2 nights, in the hotel on the kibbutz on the Dead Sea.
http://en.ein-gedi.co.il/

Arava Valley (south of Ein Gedi), 3 nights vacation rental in a farming community.
https://www.razulafaran.com/
https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/8572911

Eilat, 3 nights vacation rental on the Red Sea.
https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/22113931

Mitzpe Ramon, 1 night hotel (rooms have kitchens). Desert Home, booked through Booking.com.

Tel Aviv, 7 nights vacation rental apartment in the Neve Tzedek area of Tel Aviv. https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/751204

-----------------------------------------

We recently re-watched the last season of Transparent (Amazon Prime) where they go to Israel. Now I have all the music from Jesus Christ Superstar running through my head (they used that music in the program). I downloaded it to my iPhone. Soon we will be "riding into Jerusalem". Tomorrow. I am excited but a bit tense about the trip. Israel has been in the news a lot lately, and not in a good way.
 
#2
Fantastic! I hope you and Steve have another great trip.
Don't worry...if you look, Israel has always been in the news. It was the same when I visited in the 80's.
Buon viaggio
 

Pauline

Forums Admin
#3
We have arrived! The flight arrived at 3pm. About 40 minutes in a scrum at passport control. Picked up our Israel SIMs from 019 Mobile at the airport. Also got our Rav Kav cards for taking buses. On the last trip we never managed to get one so could not ride buses in Jerusalem. They sell them in the airport beside the mobile store.

Took a taxi from the airport. This time we rejected one with air fresheners hanging from the mirror and got one that was mostly unscented. Interesting drive on highway 1 into Jerusalem. We drove by the places we will be hiking soon. Many modern towns along the way. The growth here is visible. Beautiful mountains as we approach Jerusalem. Fields of new olive trees, vineyards, forests - but all dry and deserty looking. Our driver was talkative but his English wasn’t great. He came here from Russia 30 years ago. He told us about the places we were passing.

On our last trip we went a different route into the city. This route shows you what a big city it is. Came into the city at 5pm and it got dark immediately. Nice and sunny before. Warm weather. Heavy traffic. I made a mistake arriving Thursday night which is the start of the weekend. Tomorrow we have to get our groceries before everything closes in the late afternoon for Shabbat and does not reopen until Sunday.

We are in a different apartment this tome but same agency, same neighbourhood. It seems nice. We got checked in then walked around the neighbourhood. Had dinner at a Sushi restaurant on Emek Rafaim (veggie Pad Thai) - very good.

An early night. It is 2 hours later here from home but I am exhausted after getting up at 5am for our 8am flight and a very bumpy flight.



Our apartment is near this intersection.
 
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#4
We have arrived! The flight arrived at 3pm. About 40 minutes in a scrum at passport control. Picked up our Israel SIMs from 019 Mobile at the airport. Also got our Rav Kav cards for taking buses. On the last trip we never managed to get one so could not ride buses in Jerusalem. They sell them in the airport beside the mobile store.

Took a taxi from the airport. This time we rejected one with air fresheners hanging from the mirror and got one that was mostly unscented. Interesting drive on highway 1 into Jerusalem. We drove by the places we will be hiking soon. Many modern towns along the way. The growth here is visible. Beautiful mountains as we approach Jerusalem. Fields of new olive trees, vineyards, forests - but all dry and deserty looking. Our driver was talkative but his English wasn’t great. He came here from Russia 30 years ago. He told us about the places we were passing.

On our last trip we went a different route into the city. This route shows you what a big city it is. Came into the city at 5pm and it got dark immediately. Nice and sunny before. Warm weather. Heavy traffic. I made a mistake arriving Thursday night which is the start of the weekend. Tomorrow we have to get our groceries before everything closes in the late afternoon for Shabbat and does not reopen until Sunday.

We are in a different apartment this tome but same agency, same neighbourhood. It seems nice. We got checked in then walked around the neighbourhood. Had dinner at a Sushi restaurant on Emek Rafaim (veggie Pad Thai) - very good.

An early night. It is 2 hours later here from home but I am exhausted after getting up at 5am for our 8am flight and a very bumpy flight.


Shops open in the evening.


Our apartment is near this intersection.
I know that intersection! You are right near Marzipan whose chocolate rugelach are a near fetish with some of my friends. Also lots of bus stops. Enjoy!
 

Pauline

Forums Admin
#6
First morning in a new vacation rental. We went to Bagel Cafe for breakfast (we went there a few times last time) only to find out you can't have a light breakfast of coffee and a bagel on Fridays, because everyone comes for a big brunch. They explained this and then let us order it anyway. Good bagels. They brought us cappucino instead of black coffee but we didn't complain since they were busy and we were ordering so little. I had my first cappucino in years. Steve too. Pretty good!

Friday afternoon everything starts to close down for the weekly Jewish holiday, Shabot. Buses stop running until Sunday. Shops and restaurants close until the end of Shabot, sunset on Saturday, or on Sunday. Jerusalem is a religious city with many observant Jews. It was fascinating today to see how everyone prepares for Shabot.

It is traditional to eat Challah bread, so most shops sell it. We found a very good deli/bakery on our last visit and went there again to get Challah, and their good vegan dips. Observant Jews do not run machines on Shabot, so do not cook. Friday morning many places sell prepared food that people buy to have for Friday night dinner. We went to a Foccaccia restaurant that sets up tables of prepared foods only on Friday morning. There was a good vegetarian selection. We picked out a selection of vegetables and Steve got a piece of salmon. (We just had our dinner and the food was really good. One dish was cooked peas with large pieces of cooked artichoke hearts. I made our own rice to go with it, since I can cook on Friday night.)

@ItalophileNJ recommended a pastry shop near us so we got a few things for dessert. (This was my first experience of chocolate ruglach - wonderful!)

Then we went to a natural foods shop and got some basics for our 10 days here. It is not easy shopping for food since most of the labels are in Hebrew only, but you can guess what something is by the picture on the label and when in doubt I asked other shoppers who were very helpful. Nearly everyone speaks English here, and they speak Hebrew too. Thank you to the women who helped me figure out which peanut butter was organic and smooth. And to the guy at the cash who told me I had guessed wrong for the washing up liquid.

We are very centrally located so we went out and shopped, then back to the apartment, several times. It was fun being out with everyone shopping. Finally we had some lunch at the apartment - bagel and fried egg!

Then we took the bus into the city center. That may not sound like much but in our 7 days here last time we did not manage to figure out the buses. You cannot buy a ticket on the bus. Instead you have a Rav Kav card, like an Oyster Card in London, and load money onto it. This trip we got them at the airport when we arrived. The bus routes are complicated and the destination on the front of the bus is in Hebrew. The people on the Trip Advisor Israel forums gave me good information about the buses and I finally figured out that I can rely on the public transportation information on Google Maps. I looked up a bunch of routes before we left. The bus stop is near our apartment. A sign tells you how many minutes away the bus is. When it came I took my Rav Kav card and put it in what looked like the likely place, something beeped and that seemed to be it. I may have to ask on the TA forums about how to transfer to another bus. Today we only did one bus ride.

From the bus stop we walked to Jaffa Gate in the Old City. By now it was 3pm. I wanted to do the 3pm walk of the stations of the cross, but it was too far across the old city to reach. I had also wanted to visit the Western Wall on Friday afternoon, so we did that. We found a good route inside the city walls that keeps you out of all the narrow lanes and takes you straight there. You go through security to get into the Western Wall area. It was like an easy airport security.

The Western Wall area had a lot of people but was not too crowded. Many religious Jews were gathering. We stood watching and then decided that I should go into the women's section so I could touch the wall. I walked in, went up to the wall and put my hands on it. I was almost in tears - and I am not religious. I can only imagine what a religious person would feel here.

Steve then went into the Men's section. This section is larger and the men have to put on a kippa (they have some there for you). Steve was stopped by an young Orthodox Jew who asked if he was Jewish and when Steve said yes, wanted to do the tefillin prayers with him. Steve agreed. Tefillin is black leather straps with a small black box that contains prayers. The straps are wrapped around one arm and another one around the head. Prayers are said as this is done. It was very moving to watch. Then Steve walked to the Western Wall and put his hands on it.

Neither of us are religious now but both of us were brought up with religion, in religious families. The Western Wall is very important to Jews and the Temple of the Rock which sits above it is very important to Muslims. The nearby stations of the cross are very important to Christians. That is what makes this area so fascinating to me.

By now it was after 4pm. We walked back to Jaffa Gate, stopping only to get me a fresh pomegranate juice. Things were slowing down. Families carrying containers of cooked foods came towards us heading into the Jewish Quarter. We walked back through the city to the German Colony. Hardly any cars on the road now, all the shops closed, and the sun was setting. Very peaceful.

The day was warm and sunny. Not too hot, but lovely. Colder in the evening. We hear a bit too much traffic in our apartment, but not tonight. Hardly any cars on the road. Only the sounds of families and friends gathering for Friday supper. We had a nice supper too.







 

Pauline

Forums Admin
#8
A month or so ago I could not remember why we booked this trip to Israel so soon after our March trip. Now that I am here, I remember - we really like it here! The city is exciting, the weather at this time of year is delightful.

We didn't get going today until nearly noon but then we were out walking around the town until after 5pm. No buses, so everything was on foot. Our neighborhood was quiet and there were hardly any cars. Everyone was out walking. We went to the Train Line Park and walked to First Station (originally a railway station, now a fun area with cafes and restaurants). Many people were walking on the Train Line Park and many were at First Station. Many of the restaurants and shops were open (not all) and there was live music (although I thought their choice of covering Cat Stevens was odd, but then they moved on to cover Leonard Cohen).

We stopped for a coffee. Yesterday we asked for black coffee and got cappucino. Today we got Turkish Coffee, hot water poured over grounds which settle to the bottom of the cup, even though I could see their espresso machine. I have to learn to order better - perhaps ask for an Americano. Anyway, the Turkish Coffee was excellent - hot and strong - just what I needed.

The plan today was to figure out a way to walk to the Kidron Valley, the valley between the Old City and the Mount of Olives, without going into the Old City and without walking along highways. We managed it, more or less. We started out on a dirt road that was going to Abu Tor, the Arab village south of the Old City. The road was in rough shape and there were a few cars and it was definately not going where we wanted to go.

We went back and this time took a dirt road that went uphill (steeply) to the Old City walls. This route worked but it is not recommended. We scrambled our way up Mount Zion and reached the main road that goes along the Old City Walls. I think we could have got there an easier way. Since we were there, we went into the Mount Zion area to see the two main Christian sites - the room where Christ had the Last Supper (4th century, and experts think this wasn't the real location) and the Church of Dormition where Mary died. Both were impressive and filled with groups of tourists/pilgrims. The other thing to see here is King David's Tomb (maybe 5th century and also probably not where he is buried) but my book said it was closed. It wasn't. This is a Jewish site. We went in, but men on one side and women on the other. It was a short line and I got to put my hand on the tomb. I put a shawl on my shoulders but I didn't need to (I had a light sweater on). Steve wore a kippa (which I brought with us this time). We climbed up to a view point on top of the building. The same building has King David's Tomb on the ground floor and the Last Supper room on the floor above.

We bought some Jerusalem bagels (they look like stretched out bagels) and almonds from street vendors and that plus a British apple I brought was lunch. We sat and watched all the tour groups go by. People seemed pretty joyfull and they were from many different countries. A group of Italian women were in a bathroom line ahead of me.

From there we walked along the road. There are good wide sidewalks, some parts separated from the road, that go from Zion Gate to Dung Gate (Western Wall) and almost to Lion Gate. Beautiful views along here of the Mount of Olives and Abu Tor. We got to look into the City of David archeological site, where the first city was built duing the Canaanite period (3000 years ago). It was closed today, but most of what you see when it is open seems to be tunnels and I don't want to do that. We also got a good look at the Jerusalem Archeological site that goes from the Temple Mount area to outside the walls. We looked in from the sidewalk but you can go inside and walk through the ruins.

Just after Dung Gate we followed a path down to the valley floor. Here there are two 1st century tombs that we missed last time. These are some of the original tombs on the Mount of Olives. This part of Kidron Valley is called Valley of Jehoshaphat, and is where the day of judgement will happen (according to the Bible). I don't really understand it all but being buried here means you are first on the list then. I think it is Jewish, not Christian, and God redeems the dead when the Messiah returns on Judgement Day. Over 150,000 Jews are buried on Mount of Olives. Whatever the biblical belief, this area is fascinating with a whole hillside covered in graves/tombs. Main Christian sites are here too because this where Jesus made his way towards Jerusalem before the Romans arrested him. (I know all this stuff from Jesus Christ Superstar.)

By now it was 3pm and I had planned to go into the Old City through Lion Gate as we did last year after walking down Mount of Olives, but I did not think I could cope with the crowds. Instead we walked back along the road under the walls (with very good sidewalks). We saw a lot of men coming out of one of the Temple Mount exits, coming out after praying at the mosque. At one point earlier on the walk, when we were near City of David which is in an Arab neighborhood, afternoon prayers were broadcast from Temple Mount on loud speakers.

Which reminds me that yesterday when we were having coffee on Emek Refaim there was this young guy with long hair, wearing a long dress, sitting on a box in the middle of the interesection with Rachel Imenu and blasting out music from a speaker. Perhaps Israeli music. Blasting it out. And sort of moving to it and asking for money. We have seen a few people asking for money, usually rough looking elderly men.

We went into the Old City at Dung Gate but walked along the edge, as we did yesterday, to Jaffa Gate, which was lively and full of people. From there is was a 30 minute walk home. We stopped for pomegranate juice at the juice bar on the Train Line park. Twice the price as I paid yesterday in the Old City (20 NIS, about $6), but excellent. Steve heard someone say today that it was the season for pomegranates.

We got home as it was getting dark. I can hear the cars on the road now. Shabot is over. Dinner at home tonight.






 

Pauline

Forums Admin
#11
Hello @Doru and @Wendy Ashworth !!

Today we did a hike from Sataf in the Judean Hills west of Jerusalem, to Ein Karem, a small town attached to Jerusalem. It was not a difficult hike, only 2 - 3 hours, but the trail was scrambly in many parts, the sun was strong and hot, and public transportation coming back did not go well. I shouldn't complain about the heat because it was not too hot, upper 60sF, and it gets much hotter in the summer. But that sun is strong. It reminds me of hiking in Santa Fe NM, where we used to live. Dry, dusty trails, small trees, big blue sky and strong sun. Lower altitude here and more olive trees.

We headed out at 10am to get the 10:09 bus 18 near our apartment. When we got to the stop, the display said it was not coming for 20 minutes. We decided to walk down to Emek Refaim to see if there was a better option there. The bus 18 passed as we were walking. Luckily it had to stop at the light, we dashed across and made the bus. It took us to the ICC - Jerusalem Bus Station - in good time to make our 10:40 bus 183 to Sataf.

This is not a nicely organized bus station! It services Jerusalem buses, the light rail train and the buses that go out to towns around Jerusalem. Luckily our bus let us off right where the bus we wanted would stop. We waited 5 minutes then got the bus 183. We headed out of the city on highway 1, the main east-west highway. You can see many new towns or suburbs built on the hills. We turned off at one of them, going through a strange mixture of middle east and American style suburbs. Then on a country road to Sataf Intersection (the driver let us know when we we there and I was tracking us on Google Maps).

We walked about 5 minutes to Sataf forest. As we arrived, four large tour buses full of school children arrived. Just like when we hiked at Ein Gedi in March! But this time they were not going on the same trail as us.

I had only vague directions for this hike and thought there would be good signs at Sataf since it is a popular hiking area. Signs in Hebrew only and not many of them. I refered to my Israel National Trail book, since the first part of our walk was on it, looked at the map at Sataf, talked to two women who were also walking to Ein Karem and took the obvious path from the parking lot (the green and red trails which start just past the toilets).

The trail was dry and dusty, heading downhill and steep in parts but mostly a gentle descent. Not easy walking for the first 30 minutes. At one point we turned off the red trail to the black trail. Not many people were on the trail. The young women doing the same trail left us in their dust immediately. We made our down hill, along stone terraces, some with olive tress. Big views out over the valley with the Ein Karem Hospital sitting high up on the other side of the valley. Ein Karem the town is well below the hospital.

At the bottom of the valley we came to a trail, more like a dirt road, along a dry riverbed - Nahal Sorek. This was marked as the Israel National Trail. I think we had been on this trail the whole time, but Sataf used different colored markers. The Israel Trail markers are orange, blue and white stripes. We followed this trail and were just about to leave it to follow another trail beside Nahal Sorek when we met three young men who were hiking the whole trail, from the top of Israel to the bottom. They have been hiking for a month and will arrive in Eilat in the south in another month. I was discussing the trail with them and saying that my information says the Israel Trail does not got to Ein Karem, but they said it did. One of them got out his phone and said this map will answer all your questions. It did - my guide book is vaguely written and wrong I think. The trail goes to Ein Karem.

We walked with them until I could not longer keep up at their pace. One of them spoke English and wanted to know where we were from, why did we leave the US?, what do we think Trump has done wrong for the country, etc. Finally we got them to tell us about their hiking. Then we let them pick up their pace and leave us behind.

We made it into Ein Karem around 2:00pm. We had started at 11:30 - so 2hrs15mins for the walk.

Ein Karem is small but is a beautiful town. @ItalophileNJ told me about it when I was looking for a nice place to visit outside of Jerusalem in March. Narrow alleys with old buildings, several restaurants, several Christian religious sites (John the Baptist lived there). A few arty shops. All this in a peaceful valley just 10 mins by car from the outskirts of Jerusalem.

We could have walked out of Ein Karem for another hour following the trail we did last year, up to the train line, but I was hot and tired. We had our sandwiches in Ein Karem, then went to the bus stop. The bus is every 20 minutes, and Google Maps said one was coming in 10 minutes, but it was 30 minutes until one appeared. We took this bus to the Jerusalem Light Rail, then took that to the central bus station. It took some searching, but we found where to get our bus 18. It came, we got in line, the woman ahead of me was not getting on for some reason, the driver closed the doors and left. Next bus in 10 mins.

We decided to get back on the train and go into the center of town and get the same bus there. Not a clever decision and we ended up walking for 15 minutes to a bus stop that was packed with people. But we got on and got home.

1 hour to get to the hike, 2hrs15mins to do the hike, 2hrs on public transportation (or waiting for it) to get back. A taxi from Ein Karem would have taken under 30mins. Oh well. I haven't lived in a big city in a long time and forget how crowded and difficult public transportation can be.

Several people helped us figure out our Rav Kav cards. You put it into the machine on your first bus ride and take the ticket it prints. This is your proof of a ticket. If you then get on the train you swipe it on the machine on the train, but you don't pay again. It keeps track and you have 90 minutes from when you got on your first bus/train to use it however you like.

We walked out after dark along Emek Refaim and did some shopping. We needed snacks after that hike. I got some wonderful dates - Mejhool - @joe recommended that type of date. Hummus and pita from the supermarket, tortilla chips. Home to snack, then later I made a light dinner.

Another wonderful day but I am tired!! Tomorrow - no hiking!






 

Pauline

Forums Admin
#12
Half my posts say Ein Kerem, the other Ein Karem. I've seen it both ways. Going from Hebrew to an English version is difficult because of how they do vowels. There can be different English versions of a place.

A bus ride costs 5.90 NIS, about $1.80 - for 90 minutes of rides.
 
#13
Half my posts say Ein Kerem, the other Ein Karem. I've seen it both ways. Going from Hebrew to an English version is difficult because of how they do vowels. There can be different English versions of a place.

A bus ride costs 5.90 NIS, about $1.80 - for 90 minutes of rides.
Lovely photos.

Transliteration is always problematic. At the very basic level, which version of the name are you transliterating? English, Hebrew, Arabic ? And the vowels are always an approximation at best.


Will try to figure out the handwritten sign for you later. Unless a native speaker helps you first.
 

Pauline

Forums Admin
#14
Today we had a good explore of the Mahane Yehuda Market, the large market off Jaffa Road. We took the bus there, then walked the two main streets of the markets looking at everything. On our last trip we did a brief walk through at the end of a long walking day and we wanted to return. There is so much there, nearly all food related. Fruit and vegetables, spices, sweets, breads, fish, and more. Sprinkled throughout are small coffee shops and a few small restaurants. We had coffee at one (this time exactly the coffee we wanted - small Americano) and sat on stools watching the coming and going in the market. There is a row at the western end with stall after stall of fruit and vegetables. Just past that, in a corner is a Hummus restaurant, but I had read about Ha'agas (also called Hagas), a vegetarian hummus restaurant and wanted to try that. We found it on one of the narrow lanes going between the two main streets (all pedestrian and the main street is covered).

Ha'agas is a tiny restaurant with two tables out front and maybe four more upstairs. It was full but the waiter pointed us to a small bar with three stools beside the kitchen and we sat there. Everything is vegetarian with many vegan options.

{Oops, hit some key combination that posted this!! Editing to continue.}

I had hummus with a hard boiled egg, Steve had hummus with soya "meat", served with pita, pickles and a hot sauce. They serve a small menu and everything is made that day. We were sitting near the cook. The food came quickly and was very good.

We continued walking around the market. I bought some baklava (sweets). Then we took the bus back, getting off at First Station to do a bit of shopping at the natural foods shop. Yes, I rejected all the wonderful stuff at the market in favor of the organic vegetables at the natural foods shop.

We walked home from there, stopping for pomegranate juice for me and coffee for Steve.

Today was overcast and cooler. I am wearing a cotton sweater! It rained in the morning before we left. A short shower. It started to drizzle as we were leaving the market, but stopped soon.

Later in the afternoon, just as it was getting dark, we walked around out neighborhood, into areas we have not been before. We found a good bakery and a few cafes further up on Rachel Imenu, the road we are near.

A nice easy hang-around day.











 
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#15
Nice!

If you walk up Rachel Imenu past HaLamedHeh (the 35) and toward haPalmach streets, you will be walking in Old Katamon, the supposed setting for the Netflix series "Srugim". Although where it was actually shot, I don't know. Many of the streets are named for movements in Israel's early modern history. Friends of mine own a littlee house on Beit Eshel, where I spent many a lovely Shabbat afternoon. She now often rents it out for part of the year; he was a professor Bible and Semitics in New York and she often rents the house to students or to people in Jerusalem on Sabbatical. Beautiful trees in the yard, several in memory of beloved friends and relatives of theirs. I think it's 8 Bet Eshel.
 

Pauline

Forums Admin
#17
Today we did The Springs Trail from the Israel by Foot website. I paid $5 for the maps and it was well worth it. There are great hikes in Israel but the information online is mostly in Hebrew. The only articles I found in English are vague and that is no good when hiking. You can no longer by the detailed hiking maps here (that is what the book shop person told me). There are hiking apps, but the ones for here are in Hebrew.

The hike starts at a parking lot but for us to get there by bus was not that easy. I noticed the mid point of the hike is near the Hadassah Hospital Ein Karem and it is easy to get there by bus, so that is what we did. It took under and hour and two buses to get there.

The Hospital is a construction zone! They are bringing the Light Rail out to the hospital and everything is dug up. We picked our way out of the hospital area, walked down a road for maybe 10 minutes (there were sidewalks and then a good footpath so we did not have to walk on the road) to reach the end of the Se'Adim Ruins and En Se'Admin Nature Reserve where the trail is - mid-point on the trail. We followed a wide dirt road along the edge of a hill with great views north, looking at the valley we hiked in on Sunday. After an hour or so we reached the starting point of the hike.

We explored the Byzantine Ruins, a farm, olive press and ancient mosque, which were not signed but you could walk through them. There are two large picnic areas near the car parks and a few people out having lunch. We had lunch sitting on the ruins.

Then we did the main part of the hike, higher up the hill but parallel to the road we were on before. We were walking in trees on a very good path. We came to a dry spring. I thought maybe all of them would be dry because there has been a long drought here. But then we went around a corner and came to the most perfect small pool. I am not sure which spring this was - maybe Uzi. It was a square pool carved out of the rock, with stone steps into the water. The water looked like it would come to your shoulders.

We took off our shoes and socks and soaked our feet. Wonderful! These springs are used by religious Jews for ritual purification or cleansing I think - that is what they did in the TV show Srugim (but I think they were at another spring). If it has been warmer I would have jumped in. I loved this water. Ancient Romans probably soaked here. Early Christians. Jews from 2000+ years ago.

We continued on the trail and passed a few more springs with water, but none so perfect as that first one. Ein means spring. Ein Tamar, Ein Sarig. I think we were at Ein Uzi but I could be wrong.

We reached our starting point and had walked about six miles. From here the map takes you out to a last spring, Ein Handak, a spring tunnel. It looked like from there we could walk directly back to the hospital. It was getting later in the day (3pm), but we did this extra walk, down through the terraces to the valley floor, then along it for another mile or so. Ein Handak did not look appealing to me and we did not want to walk in the tunnel, which had water in it, so we walked up an old road to the hospital and got the bus back.

It was 4pm now and the bus was crowded. I used Google Maps to track where to get off to change buses, plus the orthodox Jew beside me helped me figure it out.

Home as it was getting dark. 8 miles walked. Dinner at home.

The weather was cooler today, around 60F. We were wearing our fleeces by the end of the walk. It was overcast the whole day and there was rain in the forecast but it never appeared. We had our rain jackets with us in case.















 

Pauline

Forums Admin
#19
Not too much to report for today. It was sunny and warm in the morning, but clouds moved in and there was some loud thunder. We had a gentle rain for an hour in the later afternoon.

We went out to Bagel Cafe for breakfast - excellent bagels, slow service. We walked on the route that @ItalophileNJ recommended up into Old Katamon. We were looking for a bank with an ATM. The bank near us won't take out US card or our UK card. We found a bank with an ATM that worked for us, plus got to explore an interesting neighborhood with cafes and shops on HaPalmach Street.

Back home for lunch. We were both feeling lazy today. I did some laundry. Frequently I can't do laundry when we travel because the machines are so scented from the regular laundry soap. This machine, in our apartment, was not bad and I did a rinse with white vinigar first to remove the scent, then I did some clothes. We have to leave here with everything washed because we have no washing machines for the 9 nights after we leave. I guess I could resort to hand washing :)

We headed out again and it looked like rain. The forecast had said rain today, but then it changed to no rain. We went into Marzipan, the bakery, to get a few chocolate rugalach and decided to have coffee. Turkish coffee - now we are big fans of it. The rain started as we were having coffee. We had our rain jackets so continued our walk around the area, checking out another Colony Suites apartment. We had wanted to rent it (Wedgewood) but there was construction next door. The construction was going on, but it looks like it will be done soon. I see a lot of construction signs around here. I think they are tearing down old apartment blocks and putting up new ones, or redoing old ones.

Then we walked up to look at a restaurant @joe recommended, Offaimme Farm Cafe, a farm to table restaurant. It was towards the city center, on the edge of our neighborhood. On the way we walked around a pretty garden we saw. The restaurant and shop looked interesting but probably too much emphasis on goat cheese for us (we are not big cheese eaters). From their we walked home.

Dinner tonight was takeout Chinese from Wok With Me just down the street. Okay for a quick meal.




 
#20
Nice relaxing day for you.

Here’s a link to a nice café right at the corner of Emek Refaim and Rachel Imenu. It’s Ben Ami, kosher café. My cousin the (former) kosher dairy caterer in Jerusalem has told me it’s the best coffee in the neighborhood, but I can’t swear to that. Pleasant place to sit; some of the clientele I could swear are the models for Srugim.
Sorry the link is in Hebrew but the menus are in English as well.

http://13012.dmobile.co.il/דף-הבית
 

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